By Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2020

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - Officials in the Virginia city of Lynchburg are threatening to turn off water for more than 1,000 households that are behind on their water bills.

The News & Advance reported Sunday that the city has paused water-service cutoffs in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials wanted to make sure people could wash their hands to fight the virus’s spread.

But Lynchburg Chief Finance Officer Donna Witt said the city is now preparing to “slowly and methodically” resume water cutoffs as soon as September. Customers collectively owe about $200,000 to the city.

Mayor MaryJane Dolan said she’s not comfortable with shutoffs, but added she doesn’t know what alternative there is.

The city said it will largely follow the State Corporation Commission’s approach to utility cutoffs. The regulatory body has said the practice of holding off on cutoffs is “not sustainable.”

About 10% of the city’s workforce is out of work. And the number of households behind on water bills has more than tripled. A little more than 4% of the city’s water customers were late on paying their bills.

At the same time, coronavirus cases are rising in the region.

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